New Brunswick general election, 1987

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New Brunswick general election, 1987
New Brunswick
1982 ←
October 13, 1987
→ 1991

58 seats of the Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick
30 seats needed for a majority
  First party Second party Third party
  Frank McKenna2.jpg
Leader Frank McKenna Richard Hatfield George Little
Party Liberal Progressive Conservative New Democratic
Leader since 1985 1967 1980
Leader's seat Chatham Carleton Centre (lost re-election) ran in Kings West (lost)
Last election 18 39 1
Seats won 58 0 0
Seat change +40 -39 -1
Percentage 60.39% 28.59% 10.55%
Swing +19.09% -18.86% +0.4%


Map of New Brunswick's ridings coloured in based on the winning parties and their popular vote

Premier before election

Richard Hatfield
Progressive Conservative

Elected Premier

Frank McKenna

Rendition of party representation in the 51st New Brunswick Legislative Assembly decided by this election.
  Liberals (58)
  Progressive Conservatives (0)
  New Democrats (0)

The 31st New Brunswick general election was held on October 13, 1987, to elect 58 members to the 51st New Brunswick Legislative Assembly, the governing house of the province of New Brunswick, Canada. The Liberal Party was victorious, for the first time since 1967, in a landslide by winning all 58 seats in the legislature.

The popularity of Richard Hatfield, who had served as a popular premier from 1970 through the 1982 election, fell due to scandals in his last term. In 1984, during an official visit to New Brunswick by Queen Elizabeth II, Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers found marijuana in Hatfield's luggage. Hatfield was later acquitted of marijuana possession charges. As reported by the media, Hatfield was also alleged to have hosted parties with young men where illegal drugs were used .[1] He was criticized by opposition parties and by the media for extravagant use of the government plane, which he used to travel to New York City where he visited night clubs, earning him the nickname "Disco Dick".[2]

In 1985, three Saint John-area Progressive Conservative members of the legislature (MLAs) challenged Hatfield's leadership and led a brief caucus revolt after the Liberals won two by-elections in previously Tory seats, but Hatfield led the party through a fifth election.

Hoping to boost his popularity enough to avoid defeat, Hatfield delayed calling the election as long as possible. It was finally held on October 13, 1987, five years and a day since the last election—the longest allowed by the Constitution of Canada. Hatfield lost every seat, including his own. He took full responsibility for the defeat. He announced his resignation the night of the election while being interviewed by media outside of his Hartland home, where he had been abandoned by his supporters early in the evening as the returns began to come in.

Frank McKenna's Liberals were virtually assured victory from day one, thanks to Hatfield's scandals, but ran a very successful campaign allowing them to sweep the province. The New Democrats also suffered a moral defeat, losing their one seat—something they had won for the first time in 1982.


Party Party Leader # of
Seats Popular Vote
1982 Dissolution Elected % Change # % Change
     Liberal Frank McKenna 18 19 58 246,702 60.39%
     Progressive Conservative Richard Hatfield 39 38 0 116,798 28.59%
     New Democratic George Little 1 1 0 43,033 10.55%
     Independents - - - 1,933 0.47%
*** Total 58 58 58 408,516 100.0%